MAN OF THE HOUR: Can Jokowi be a Peacemaker in the Russia-Ukraine conflict?

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Jakarta, IO – Indonesia, as a resource-rich Southeast Asian country, does not wish to be a vassal of Western countries, but rather the leader of Southeast Asian and even Asian countries. From June 26 to 28, Indonesian President Joko Widodo attended the G7 summit in Germany. Following the meeting, he traveled to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, then to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and lastly to the United Arab Emirates. 

The visit to the UAE is intended to discuss issues concerning the country’s investment in Indonesia. Regarding the reason for Jokowi’s tour to Ukraine and Russia, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno stated, “This is due to President Jokowi’s concern for humanitarian issues.” He is attempting to alleviate the food crisis brought on by the war. 

This is a fight for emerging nations. Poor nations, in particular, have a significant influence. “While the situation is challenging and the issues are complicated, President Jokowi has chosen to assist in this way, rather than keep silent, as the rotating chairman of the G20 and a member of the United Nations’ ‘Global Crisis Response Team,’” she continued. 

Because the war between Russia and Ukraine is still ongoing, Jokowi’s tour to Russia and Ukraine may be jeopardized. The Indonesian government has provided for 39 professionally trained security professionals, 10 of whom are advance troops, to safeguard Jokowi. 

Jokowi stated in his statements prior to departing for Germany for the G7 meeting that he was “invited to the summit and then flew to Ukraine and Russia to create a platform for peace.” “The conflict must end, and the world’s food and energy supply chains must be reset,” he stated. 

Furthermore, Indonesia is dubbed the “new Asian tiger,” because to its rapid economic progress. This country pursues an export-oriented industrialization approach, as well as a mix of high-tech and economic growth. Due to its quick expansion and vast population, Indonesia is also included in the G11 list of nations with strong economic potential. Indonesia is one of the most promising growing economies. 

As a result, Indonesia is now a member of the “Big Twenty,” a grouping of nations with the most developed and developing economies. Also, Indonesia will chair and host the G20 summit on the island of Bali from November 15-16, 2022. 

Experiences of Indonesia as a peace broker and mediator 

Indonesia has a track record of successfully resolving regional conflicts. Indonesia played a critical role in resolving the Cambodian armed war and Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia between 1988 and 1991. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Indonesia also acted as an honest broker in the war between the Philippines and the rebel organization Moro National Liberation Front. 

Indonesia presided over the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1993, and held a second round of informal exploratory discussions at Cipanas, West Java. The discussions produced a “Statement of Understanding,” which prompted the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front to negotiate a peace treaty in 1996. 

By acting as an honest broker, Indonesia can demonstrate its ability to sustain international order while also boosting its worldwide image. If Indonesia can achieve strategic outcomes that lead to a peace accord, as it has in the past, the country’s image and negotiating power in the international arena will improve. 

Indonesia’s ambition to become a “Great Power” 

It is evident that Jokowi now wishes to serve as a mediator from the perspective of a neutral country. When Russia attacked Ukraine, Indonesian diplomats supported the US at the UN, criticizing Russia but opposing sanctions. Later, Western countries chastised Russia for breaching human rights and sought Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Indonesia refrained from voting. For a number of factors, Indonesia’s posture has increasingly evolved toward neutrality. 

In Indonesia, public opinion is split. Many people hold favorable views of Russia and Putin. More over half of the population dislike the United States and see it as an antiIslamic country. At the same time, Indonesia maintains significant commercial ties with Russia and China; Russia also sends arms to Indonesia. The most essential cause, though, is the Indonesian elite’s “great power ambition.” As a resource-rich Southeast Asian country and an important player in Southeast Asia and beyond, Indonesia has its own viewpoint on demonstrating leadership as a non-bloc country. 

Foreign policy in Indonesia has historically been neutral, and many elites feel that Indonesia should not take sides in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, Jokowi may believe that when Russia invaded Ukraine, it should take a principled position against major powers conquering neighbouring states. However, after making his declaration, he stated that he had no intention of following the United States.